Albanian reveals jitters for Queen’s funeral

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he feels a real sense of history as he prepares to lead an entourage of Australians to London for the Queen’s funeral.

Mr Albanese, who will leave Sydney later on Thursday with Governor General David Hurley and their partners to attend Monday’s state funeral, has revealed a few nerves ahead of next week’s ceremonies.

“Of course I do. I have a sense of history and sense of the occasion,” he told UKTN radio on Thursday.

“I don’t think there has been a meeting in world history like we will see over the weekend and on Monday.

Mr Albanese, who will attend multiple events before and after the funeral, also said he had a “feeling of privilege to represent Australia”.

“That sense of history and the longevity of the service and the dedication to service that Queen Elizabeth had over those seven decades is one of the reasons there is an outpouring of emotions,” he said.

He will see the Queen lying in state at Westminster Hall and signing a register of condolences at Lancaster House.

He will also have a personal meeting with the King at Buckingham Palace, along with a reception with other Commonwealth leaders. And he has revealed what he intends to tell the new monarch.

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“First of all, my condolences. We must remember that this is the loss of his mother, not just the loss of a monarch,” he said on Thursday.

“I do believe that King Charles’ statement, his first statement that he made, was quite extraordinary and, of course, acknowledged that loss so soon after the loss of his father.

“Secondly, may all Australians convey their condolences and respect for Her Majesty’s contribution and we wish him the best.

“Australians obviously have different opinions and I have an opinion on the constitution, but that’s a time for another day.”

Guard at the Queen’s Chest Passes Out

Mr Albanese will meet Britain’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, in Kent. A similar meeting is also planned with his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau.

Mr. Albanian said the king’s accession to the throne had raised many changes and questions.

“One of the things that is happening is that Australians are now more aware of our system of government. There are people who have expressed my surprise at how King Charles automatically ascended to the throne,” he said.

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“It’s an opportunity, I think, for us to think about the system we have over a period of time.”

He has previously ruled out a referendum on Australia becoming a republic during his first term in office, saying the constitutional priority was to gain an Indigenous vote in parliament.

There will also be 10 “everyday Australians” on board tonight’s official flight with Mr Albanian and Mr Hurley, as requested by Buckingham Palace. They include Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott, champion racehorse trainer Chris Waller (who is actually from New Zealand) and other past and present holders of various Australians of the Year awards.

It was also revealed on Thursday that another champion trainer, Gai Waterhouse, and her husband Robbie will be taking a lift to London with the Prime Minister.

Waterhouse, who previously trained horses for the Queen, was invited to the funeral by the palace. But she and her husband couldn’t find flights to get to London on time, so they contacted Mr Albanese’s office for help.

“They had trouble crossing. As you can understand, it’s a bit full at the moment,” he said,

“Australians would love it if Gai and Robbie Waterhouse [are attending]with the relationship they had, of course, training the Queen’s horses and having audiences with the Queen at Royal Ascot.

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The Waterhouses have paid for their seats on the Prime Minister’s plane.

Albanian’s overcrowded flight goes to London

Australia’s four surviving Victoria Cross holders were also invited to the funeral. The included Ben Roberts-Smith, who is awaiting sentencing in his high-profile libel trial against the Nine Newspapers.

Mr Roberts-Smith has taken a commercial flight.

The Prime Minister’s flight will also carry officials and heads of state from neighboring Commonwealth countries, including Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Samoa.

At least one other Pacific nation is expected to receive support.

Meanwhile, more than 21,000 Australians have signed an online condolence register on the website of the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet.

Physical books are also available to sign at Parliament House and Government House in Canberra, as well as at official residences in other states and territories.

Mr Albanian will return to Australia on Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s National Day of Remembrance. It will include a memorial service in Canberra attended by all state and area leaders.

– with AAP

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